Friday, October 31, 2014

Do Something Now...

"We are so scared of being judged that we look for every excuse to procrastinate"
                                                ~ Erica Jong 

My brother Jason and I had a brief argument this past week...

Anyone who knows Jason is immediately aware that he is a gym rat and body builder so he believes himself an authority on physical fitness.

Jason and I were discussing the best training techniques when he said that the last set of any weight lifting were the hardest to do.

I countered by saying that for most people... the first set of any weight lifting routine was infinitely harder than any other.

He thought I was crazy until I explained my logic. 

Although everyone wants to be working out, nine out of ten people weren’t even at the gym but rather sitting on their sofa... helping their kids with their homework or worse yet... still at work.

Therefore I concluded, feeling confident that I had won the argument, for 90% of the population, it is the first set not the last set. The last set is indeed the hardest to complete... because they never go to the gym in the first place. 

I used to know a man, Will, who would say to me (with a straight face nonetheless), that his head was full of great ideas and that he wished that someone would pay him handsomely for access to those ideas...

"Instead of working, I could just join a "think-tank" and develop good ideas for other people to implement", he would often say to me.

I would then just shake my head and reply, "good luck finding that job".

There isn’t a waiter or hair stylist in west Los Angeles who isn’t writing a pilot for a new hit reality show... or a barista in the Bay Area who isn’t thinking of a new killer phone app... or a staff worker in Washington, DC who does have a better way of running the government if they were only President for a few years...

Coming up with great ideas is the easy part... the hard part is actually doing something to make the good idea a reality.

It’s hard because it requires that you take a risk... it’s hard because it takes you away from doing other things you like to do... it’s hard because it takes capital (either yours... or convincing someone else to give you some of theirs)...

For a lot of people the day to start writing that book is "someday"... the day to start that diet is "someday"... the day Do Something Nowto start that new company with the great idea is "someday"...

I recently read, Do Something Now, by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg, authors of several best-selling leadership books including their New York Times best seller Nuts! - Southwest Airlines Crazy Recipe for Personal and Business Success.

In their book, they describe two different classes of people... players and spectators.

According to the Freibergs, players are those who charge on the field to win... they are the doers... they are the ones in the game... they are creators... they are the risk takers... they are the alphas of the tribe...

Spectators, on the other hand, are those sitting in the stands watching the players play, they are the ones criticizing the game, they are the ones who shrink from their God-given talents.  Spectating is easy... there are no risks involved... no skin in the game...

Spectators like to sit around and plan, observe, gather more data, debate the merits of the plan, and then change the plan... they seem to do a lot of work... but somehow nothing ever seems to get done.  (Maybe this describes your organization... or an organization that you know).

There is a cost of being a player... that is... you’re always being held up to scrutiny by the cynics... the skeptics... the spectators...

Players aren’t obsessed with consensus... they understand their jobs and they do them... they lead by example... not by committee... sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail... but that goes along with the turf. 

Players use their failures as learning lessons... and try to do it better the next time... or the time after that... or even the time after that... because players rarely give up.

Players fight for what they believe in... no matter how scared they are... they understand that courage isn’t the absence of fear... rather courage is moving forward in spite of the fear.

What gives them their courage is believing...

They believe in themselves... the idea... the product... their teammates... the mission.

Most importantly, players believe in doing something now.

Right now is the perfect time to start...

Now there are those readers who might read these words and say, "It’s easy for you to preach... you don’t have young kids in school... you don’t have a mortgage to make each month... you don’t have my problems, my obligations, my responsibilities..."

My response would be... "You are absolutely correct... I don’t have your problems... I have my own problems... and the woman down the street has her problems... we all have our own unique set of issues that we need to find a way to deal with each and every day... that’s called life ".

In life, we can only control two things - our attitude and our effort.

Our attitude comes from taking responsibility for ourselves, our actions, and the countless decisions that we make each and every day.

Attitude is doing your best but knowing that you can do better the next time... that you don’t know all the answers... that you need to keep going no matter what happens along the way...

Attitude is giving thanks for what you have and being grateful for the opportunities still in front of you.

Attitude is graciously accepting the help of others with the tacit understanding that you’ll pay it forward by offering your help to those who want or need some of your assistance.

Attitude is found between the ears... it’s the thing that drives you to new places and help you to reach for new plateaus.

If attitude is found between the ears... then effort is found in your heart.

Effort is getting out of bed each morning ready to start a new day and it keeps you going no matter what obstacles stand in your way.

Effort is trying new things... striving to get better... doing the hard work instead of taking the easy way out just because you can... effort is leaving everything you have out on the field, on the road, in the workplace, at your home...

Effort is your character... doing the right thing, not because you’ll get caught... but because it is the right thing to do.

Effort is showing up early and leaving late.  It is leading by example.  It is having the patience of being a teacher and the integrity of a role-model.

Effort is doing that last set of reps, the final mile, the last sales call... but more importantly... it’s doing the first set, the first mile, the first sales call... because it’s the first one that takes the most amount of effort.

Effort is doing it today... not waiting for that perfect moment (because that perfect moment will never come)... not waiting for divine inspiration... not waiting for permission... not waiting until tomorrow... because today is yesterday’s tomorrow... and yesterday you promised that you’d start tomorrow.

Lead with your head... but always follow your heart...

...and do something now...

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we are doing something today to help our customers succeed tomorrow (as well as the day after tomorrow).

Friday, October 24, 2014

In Search of Meaning...

Those who have a ’Why’ to live, can bear almost any ’How’...
                                           ~ Viktor Frankl

Who of us can imagine a fate worse than that of being in a concentration camp during World War II?  The atrocities committed by the Nazis were inhumane and barbaric.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to read a first-hand account of what it was like to be a prisoner sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp while completing Viktor Frankl’s masterpiece work, Man’s Search For Meaning.

Viktor Frankl was a Viktor Frankltrained physician and noted psychiatrist before being apprehended and transported, along with his family, to Auschwitz in October of 1944.
There his family was separated, sending his parents to the gas chambers, his wife to another camp where she eventually died, while his brother and he remained as laborers.

Frankl endured severe beatings by his captors, the freezing cold winter elements, malnutrition, and exposure to deadly diseases such as typhoid and cholera while living in the concentration camp.

His brother soon fell victim to the environment and died.

Viktor Frankl somehow managed to survive his ordeal and was liberated by the allied forces in April of 1945.

It was from these first-hand experiences and as a trained practitioner of human psychology that he tried to make sense of the carnage that he had witnessed and ultimately formulated a theory as to what was the purpose of man’s existence.

He theorized that a person has three ways of arriving to our purpose in life: 
  1. Creating or doing.  We find purpose in being productive, not necessarily in the work we do, but rather as human beings.
  2. Experiencing something or encountering someone.  We gain purpose when we realize that our life has an impact on the lives of other people, both positively and negatively.
  3. How we deal with suffering.  If suffering is unavoidable then your mindset must adjust to the situation at hand and grow.
Viktor Frankl survived his concentration camp experience due to two decisive factors...
  1. Sheer luck.  At any point during his incarceration, he could have been summarily executed by his captors, he could have fallen victim to a deadly disease, and/or he might have simply starved to death... but he didn’t.
  2. He found the will to survive by believing that his wife and family would need him after they were someday released.  He didn’t know IF he would ever leave or IF his wife was still alive, but that feeling that he was still needed gave him hope and the will to continue another day.
Frankl understood that his captors had all of the physical power and they could end his life at any moment, but he wrote, "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."  His captivity only reinforced his idea of free will.

Now jump forward 70 years with me to this past Sunday morning where I had the incredible opportunity to meet two aspiring young filmmakers, Julian Curi and Rocco Ambrosio.

Julian and Rocco are Shock Valueco-directors of a new feature film called "Shock Value".

The basic premise of Shock Value, as described to me, is the age old question, "Why are we here on earth and what is the meaning of life?"

The movie’s main character is Bonnie Munson, a young actress who arrives in Los Angeles desperate to make a difference... but what she finds is a world without humanity, morality, or a soul, a beautiful world painted in gray.

After some time, Bonnie finds her first acting job with a company whose mission it is to give its clients purpose by offering to bring them dangerously close to the moment of death through electric shock. 

At first, Bonnie finds this assignment with the company stimulating, adding a sense of community, belonging and purpose to her life but soon after she becomes conflicted with the methodology employed by the company to find their clientele (operating a suicide prevention hotline, they prey upon individuals in their weakest state having forsaken all hope).

Bonnie finds herself quickly falling down the rabbit hole of despair and unhappiness.

With the ever growing feeling of emptiness, she now knows that she has allowed her environment and present condition to dictate the terms of her own happiness and knows that she must find a way to shock herself into a new consciousness or perish.

The young men sitting in front of me exude confidence in their ambitious project. 

"This is not really the story of Bonnie but rather of Viktor Frankl", said Julian, "a man whose environment has become intolerable by anyone’s standards... yet he finds a way to be at peace knowing that he himself has the power to control his thoughts, emotions, and feelings."

Rocco piped in, "Viktor Frankl wrote ’When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves’"... this is the very essence of what we are hoping to capture in our film.

As I sat there sipping my coffee, I couldn’t help but think to myself that these two millennials are anything but the stereotypical 20-something ’slackers’ that the main-stream media wants to paint their entire generation.  They both appear to be deep thinkers with a lot more questions than answers but with a great sense of understanding of human nature well beyond their years.

As I felt time growing short, I finally asked them the operative question of how I might be able to help them with their project.

The young men then quickly changed hats - from directors to producers - and alternated dialog in an almost choreographed performance, outlining the production schedule, individuals artists already committed to the project and the proposed budget.

They have estimated the total project budget to be $70,000, start to finish, including the submission fees to several renowned independent film festivals.

In order to raise the funds needed to complete production, they have turned to the crowd-funding platform, Kick-Starter.

As of this writing, they have raised about 20% of their goal, but with the understanding that it is not unusual and quite ordinary for the bulk of the funding to come during the last few days of the campaign.

I told them that I believed in their story and their entrepreneurial project.  I pledged my support and told them that I would contribute my donation before the campaign concluded on November 1st.

Now, some people might look at this project as a waste of money and other resources, whereas I, on the other hand, think that this is a story that needs to be told...

This is the story of finding humanity in a sometimes cold cruel impersonal world... the story of our freedom to think and believe our own thoughts regardless of the situations that we find ourselves... the story that each one of us on earth has meaning, if not for ourselves, then for the others who share in our lives...

OptiFuse is proud to be a supporter of this film project and hope that you too feel the same about the project as we do... click here to find out more about the project and how you can help participate (and the rewards for doing so).

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we are proud to support the arts and the creative ideas expressed by the many artists of the world.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Strength of Atlas...

"It is not death that we wish to avoid, but rather life that we want to live"

                                   ~Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Last week, my wife and I were invited to attend a private screening of Atlas Shrugged Part III, based on a novel written by Ayn Rand and published 1957.

Although I had not yet seen the first two parts of the movie, I couldn’t Atlashelp from accepting this invitation as Atlas Shrugged is one of my favorite books of all time.

A few years ago, the United States Library of Congress, in conjunction with the Book-of-the-Month Club, took a poll of their readers asking the question "what was the most influential book in your life?".  The clear-cut winner was of course the Bible, however the second book on the list was Atlas Shrugged.

The book has sold some 20 million copies and despite being some 50 years old, it continues to be one of the best-selling books in the world to this day. 

Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1905 and was in her early teens at the outbreak of the Russian revolution in 1917.  She witnessed firsthand the transition of Imperialist Russia to Communist Russia under Lenin. 

Under Communist rule, her family’s business was confiscated for the "the good of the state" and the family was "displaced" to the Crimea Peninsula where she attended the Petrograd University while studying history.

In the fall of 1925, Rand was granted a visa to travel to America to visit relatives and she arrived in New York in February of 1926.

Ayn Rand never intended to return to Russia and instead moved to Hollywood to become a screenwriter, which was no small task due to her lack of English proficiency.  She struggled to make a living but did meet a young actor by the name of Frank O’Connor whom she married in 1929 subsequently becoming an American citizen in 1931.

In the 1930’s she was moderately successful writing screenplays for several large studios in Hollywood but also published her first novel, a semi-autobiographical account, We the Living, in 1936.  In 1940, her second novel, Anthem, was published.  Both of these early works did not initially sell, but due to Rand’s later notoriety, both books have now sold over 3 million copies.   

During the 1940’s Ayn Rand and her husband became politically active which gave her the opportunity to meet and associate with several intellectuals who espoused the ideas of free-market capitalism.

Ayn Rand’s first real commercial success came in 1943 with the release of The Fountainhead

The book was based on a central character named Howard Roark, an architect of great skill and vision.  Roark found himself in artistic purgatory, buried in a system of bureaucratic red-tape and conforming attitudes among his peers and the critics.

The book was a blockbuster hit which catapulted Ayn Rand into fame and life-changing wealth.

No longer needing to work full-time, over the next decade, she was able to devote a full-time effort in her work as an anti-communist spokesperson and a free-market supporter.

In 1951, she moved back to New York City and began writing her comprehensive novel surrounded by sympathetic admirers in a group known as the "collective" which included writers, philosophers and economists of whom which she entrusted as active advisors during her writing of Atlas Shrugged.

Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957, which despite all of the negative media reviews, became an instant worldwide best-seller.

The book is set in futuristic dystopian United States where government policies have destroyed the capitalistic foundations of the economy.

The protagonist is Dagney Taggert who runs the Taggert Railroad, the only means of transportation left.  Dagney is shown as a strong person who is intent on building her railroad despite the anti-business actions and regulations of the government.

The villain is James Taggert, Dagney’s inept brother who believes that it is only through more government that his wealth and power can be maintained.

Dagney aligns herself with other staunch capitalists such as Hank Reardon, the inventor and sole producer of a new type of "super metal" that replaces ordinary steel, Ellis Wyatt, oil wildcatter who has developed a new method of pumping oil that revitalizes old oil fields, and Francisco d’Anconia who copper mines produce much of the world’s copper.

While her brother James, has aligned himself with the political machine of Washington and owners of other corporations that believe in maintaining the status quo as opposed to developing new technologies.  These men create laws and regulations to legally take the inventions of others under the guise of "the good of the people and nation" and/or tax their profits to give to those with more need.

A classic struggle is waged between the innovators and government "looters".

[Spoiler Alert - click here to skip the next several paragraphs if you don’t want to know the ending of the book]

Finally in desperation, the producers are compelled to stop working by striking and join a secret counter-movement. 

The leader of this counter-movement is John Galt, a mysterious yet brilliant man who decided that he would not participate in this type of society where capitalism is vilified in lieu of socialism.

John Galt left the world behind to create a new Utopian society where men and women are free to ply their trades, producing goods and offering services in a pure capitalistic free-market and devoid of any government interference.

After much reluctance, Dagney and her allies, finally agree to join John Galt and the others but not before he takes to the airwaves giving a long speech denouncing the evils of government, academia, collectivism, and religious organizations while championing the virtues of self-interest, profits, morality, free-will, and the power of innovation. 

This speech is the very essence of a new capitalistic philosophy espoused by Ayn Rand and is later coined "objectivism".

The reason that this type of work appeals to so many people, is that they see themselves in the same type of struggle against the ever growing long-arm of the government.

The basic themes found in Atlas Shrugged are the basis of the modern Libertarian, Tea, and Republican parties (except that objectivism also denounces all forms of God and religion... so these special interest group only accept certain elements of objectivism while rejecting others) offering a smaller and less restrictive government with less taxes being paid.

The problem with the pure ideas of socialism and/or objectivism is that these two diametrically opposed viewpoints are on the polar ends of the political / economical spectra. 

What a majority of the people want is a blend of strong business ideals and basic governmental services.
Very few people want a pure socialistic society where hard work (i.e. profits) are redistributed to those who refuse to work or restricting the opportunities to better one’s self and family... nor do they want a society where profits are generated by polluting the environment, abusing workers, and/or creating monopolies that drive off competition.

Most people of the world are united in wanting the same basic things:

Freedoms of speech and travel, security for themselves and their family, safe food, clean water, access to education, roads and infrastructure, access to medical care, the opportunity to better one’s self through hard work, the autonomy to think for ourselves and freedom to make a difference in the world.

Most of us would agree that our government has now grown beyond that envisioned by our founding fathers but is still a long way from the oppressive rule of places like North Korea, Cuba or Mauritania (where still in 2014, slavery is still accepted and practiced).

Many would also agree that those (individuals and corporations) with wealth have some moral obligations to reinvest some of those profits to help better society as a whole.

The world is not the black typed words on a white page but rather a shade of grey...

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we support freedom and the free-thinkers whose ideas move the world.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Dream With A Timeline...

Some people dream of things that are and ask "why"... I dream of things that never were and ask "why not?"...
                                     ~ Robert Kennedy

I have a friend, (who I will call "Lisa" to protect the innocent).  She is a hard-working and very successful single mom with one college-age child. 

Lisa’s son, Chad, currently attends a prestigious liberal arts college in New England that costs her a small fortune in tuition, housing, books and other assorted costs of attendance.

This past spring, I had a chance to meet up with Lisa to catch up with our lives over a cup of coffee. 

During the course of our conversation, she lamented that Chad was not doing very well at school, even though he was majoring one of the easier majors (I’d prefer not to mention the major by name as not to offend any of my readers).  His grades have been lackluster and he seems to be just going through the motions.

"I keep asking him what his plan is... and he keeps telling me not to worry... that he has everything under control", she lamented. "If he’s not going to take school seriously, then I might as well have him move back home... at least it will save me some money!"

"Jimmy, maybe you can talk some sense into Chad... he just tunes me out whenever I try to talk with him about his future... he’s a really smart kid... he just doesn’t seem to have any motivation to do the work."

I nodded my head silently thinking about several kids with the same affliction (including my own kids at one time or another).

"Chad is coming home in a few weeks for spring break... I know that he respects you... perhaps he’ll listen to you."

I told Lisa that I’d be happy to sit down and talk with Chad when he arrived back in San Diego... 

It was a few weeks later when I had the opportunity to meet with Chad at a local restaurant near the water. 

He was hardly the young boy that I had known only a few years before.  He was now a young man in his early twenties.

I began the conversation by asking him about school and what he enjoyed doing when he wasn’t going to classes.

His responses to my questions were measured and well-rehearsed.

After a few minutes of answering questions, he finally blurted out in a frustrated voice, "So are you going to ask me what my goals are and what my plan of action is to achieve those goals?"

I laughed out loud... 

"No", I said, "I couldn’t care less about your goals and plans."

"What I really want to know is... what are your dreams?"

"Where do you want to travel to?... what types of adventures do you want to have?... who do you want to meet... who do you want to help?"

"Inside are you an artist?... a writer?... a chef?... a musician?... "

"What are the things that make you happy... what are the things that make you sad... what are the things that you think about when no one else is around?"

Chad looked at me with a dazed expression on his face... this was definitely not the conversation he was expecting to have... the conversation that he had had several times before with scores of different people... 

Peering directly into his eyes, in a soft voice, I asked him again, "So what are your dreams?"

After what seemed like a full minute, he finally responded, "I dunno... I haven’t given it much thought... I guess I want to travel and see new places... doesn’t everyone?"

"I don’t really know what other people dream about... nor do I care... today I’m talking to you... so I’m only interested in your dreams at this moment."

I could see by his expressions that his mind was now working hard to formulate new answers to these new questions...

I continued, "Your dreams are the end point... they are your ’Why’... if you don’t have dreams then how the hell can you possibly create goals (the ’What’) and/or plans of action (the ’How") to reach those goals?"

"Why are you going to school?... to get a job?... to earn some money?... What will you do with the money once you have it... buy a bunch of things that some marketers tells you to buy in order to bring you some feeling of happiness?"

I definitely had Chad’s complete and total attention at this point... no longer did he display a certain smugness that represented that he knew all the answers to all the questions... 

"Chad, the truth is... you probably haven’t given very much time to actually dreaming... you’ve been simply too busy going through the motions doing the things that you think that you should be doing... for reasons that are probably more important to other people than yourself".

Some people will use the analogy of taking a trip... you set a destination... let’s say New York City as an example.  Getting to New York City is your goal.

There are thousands of different ways to actually get to New York... so you create a road map of how you want to travel to get there... this is your plan... 

Once you have the plan... then you can determine all of the logical steps that you’ll need in order to get to the destination... this is called working the plan... 

But the real question is, why did you select New York City in the first place?... why not Boston... why not Paris... why not Mombasa?

Understanding why we want to go to a particular destination is far more important than actually going there... 

When I was a kid, somewhere around 8-12 years old, my friends and I would freely share our dreams with one another... one time we were jet pilots... another time we were Kung Fu fighters... and another day we were rock stars or major league baseball players... 

Our imaginations ran wild with each of us adding new situations and criteria to the scenes freely playing through our heads... 

Then sometime near our teens, adults started telling us that it was time to grow up... begin planning for the future... start setting goals and then implementing our goals... 

...but somewhere along the way we forgot how to dream...

As it turns out, at the end of the summer, Chad decided that he would not return to school this semester.  It appears that he wanted to take some more time to dream a bit more about his future before he set his own course... 

As the late Zig Ziggler once said, "Goals are nothing more than dreams with a time line."

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we dream of a world filled of happy and satisfied people.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Grappling with Success...

I often warn people: Somewhere along the way, someone is going to tell you that there is no "I" in team.  What you should tell them is... maybe not... but there is an "I" in independence, individuality, and integrity.
                                        ~ George Carlin

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to travel to Sacramento and while there I decided to look up my old high school wrestling coach... 
Coach and I stay in touch on a semi-regular basis... checking in with one another when we are able.
These days, Coach runs a wrestling program for middle school kids instead of at the high school level (although Wrestlingmany of his kids do eventually end up wrestling at the high school level).
With cutbacks in athletic programs all over the country, his wrestling program is run on a shoe-string budget... but unfortunately often is the case where the shoes attached to the shoe strings are simply not included.
Coach never turns any kid down... if they can’t afford to wrestle (joining AAU and buying a pair of wrestling shoes)... he’ll typically pay for it out of his own pocket (at least this is what he did for me some 35 years ago).
At one point Coach and I attempted to create a charitable foundation to help fund his and other programs in the Sacramento area, but it turns out that creating a foundation is much harder than it first appears... so I just ended up writing a small non-tax-deductible check to assist with the cause each fall... it’s much simpler this way... and the money goes directly to the kids.
Back in high school, I was drawn to a sport like wrestling like a moth to a flame. 
As a freshman, I was no taller than 5’ 6" and weighed no more than 95 pounds soaking wet, and was slower than a snail on valium.  However, I had quick reflexes and possessed a good amount of strength and agility for my physical dimensions... 
So after a failed attempt at freshman football that fall, I looked at my winter sports choices and discovered wrestling.
Fortunately the sport of wrestling is segmented by weight classes so I was no longer trying to compete with boys twice (or more) my size but rather someone within a few pounds of me.
The other ideal that impressed me about wrestling is that it is based completely on a meritocracy. 
Other sports, like football, basketball, or baseball offer comradery and team principles but it is the leaders, the coaches, who ultimately decide who gets to play on the field and who sits on the bench and after spending several months on the bench I decided that perhaps wrestling offered me some hope in which to actually participate.
Wresting is hierarchical built on a ladder system.  The wrestler on the top rung is on the varsity squad and that of the second rung is on the junior varsity squad (there are actually 14 weight classes - ranging from 95 pounds through 285 pounds). 
If a wrestler wants to move up the ladder... they challenge the person above them... if they win... they go up... if they lose... they remain in their original place awaiting a match from someone below them.
There are no decisions to be made by the coaches... all of the decisions are made on the mat... if I didn’t win... it was no one’s fault but my own.
Subjectivity has been entirely removed from the process... there are no politics... there is no class distinction or seniority (a talented freshman may beat a 4th-year senior)... there are no differences in each combatant’s equipment (primarily since there is no equipment to speak of)... 
In this arena... the field is level... mano y mano... winner take all... 
The contest is won by a combination of strength, stamina, quickness, experience, knowledge, preparation, and a sheer will to win.
Merit supersedes all other factors... there is no entitlement in wrestling.
Through extension of the ladder system, an additional life lesson can be learned ... you might ascend to the highest rung on your team... but then the real competition begins as your team ventures out, challenging other teams at tournaments and meets... going  face-to-face with another team’s best wrestler... 
No matter how good you think that you are... there is always someone else out there who is looking to knock you off the highest rung... they possess more innate talent than you... they are working harder than you... preparing more than you... 
There is no time to rest on your laurels... even if you’re on top at the moment... success is fleeting if you aren’t trying to constantly improve yourself.
The sport of wrestling doesn’t necessarily have a monopoly on this type of competition... tennis, golf, swimming, track and field and boxing all exhibit many of the same characteristics of wrestling (although golf and tennis do have some possible equipment inequalities).
Wrestlers and other individual sports participants may belong to a team (for training purposes), but in the end, their success is derived through individual achievement.
Millions of years ago... mankind started out as a pure meritocracy... 
If you were able to successfully hunt for food... you survived... if not... you starved to death... and just because you ate today didn’t ensure that you’d eat tomorrow... that’s the way it was... 
In today’s world we have rugged individuals who embrace the ideals of merit and achievement... forsaking the safety of the group and mostly going at it alone.
People like writers, artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs who begin with nothing more than a blank piece of paper, a white canvas or the germ of an idea. 
The writer doesn’t know in advance if their work will be perceived to be good or not... but they know it is better to actually be bloodied in the battle than to be watching from the bleachers.    
They write because they have words inside of them that need to be released.
Vincent Van Gogh never sold a single painting in his own lifetime, yet his art has become the most sought after and valuable masterpieces 150 years hence.  Van Gogh didn’t let failure stand in the way of his painting.  He knew his works were masterpieces so he continued to paint.
This is the manner in which a true entrepreneur operates.  The true entrepreneur doesn’t create a company to create riches for themselves and their investors, they create companies because they have a seed of an idea that needs to germinate, grow roots, sprout from the ground, grow tall toward the light and one day hopefully bear some fruit for its effort.
In interesting aspect of individuality is that even if they happen to find success, there will always be someone looking to challenge them, to take over their place on the top of the mountain.
The individual must continue to work harder and harder to improve themselves and their work... develop new ideas... and to motivate themselves to continue moving forward.
While it is true that we all live in a community and are members of several teams, tribes, clans and/or like minded people... we are also individuals who feel the need to set challenges for ourselves as we grow and learn.
It is that individuality that defines us... and which gives us the spirit to enrich our lives... 
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we support the individual in each and every one of us.